Would you guys fly? Drones in Tokyo

Living in Tokyo has many perks, but flying drones is not one of them.

I manage to find a couple website retailers based in Japan and there are plenty of RC Car Shops if I ever need basic hardware and tools. However, the closes Safe-fly zone is 90 mins by train in any direction of Tokyo, all parks are banned in Tokyo, all indoor places require the permission of the owner.

The rules are translated in English here: http://www.mlit.go.jp/en/koku/uas.html
and summarize by another website here: http://www.aircraft-world.com/en/Japan-Aviation-Law

I think I found a “loophole” in the rules.

They first define a UAV as:

“The term “UA/Drone” means any airplane, rotorcraft, glider or airship which cannot accommodate any person on board and can be remotely or automatically piloted (Excluding those lighter than 200g. The weight of a UA/Drone includes that of its battery.).”

and the second site goes further:

Flying heavier than 200g machines inside DID area, require registration of the machine and the place, where you are flying. No need from registration outside of DID area. No need from machine registration for flying on already registered places.

Included in this 200g is only required minimum for the machine to fly - frame + motors + esc +propellers + flight controller + receiver + battery. FPV gear (camera, VTx, OSD, antenna) is not part of the calculation. So your total weight can be more than 200g.

Does that mean all the listed rules only apply to 200 gram plus drones? And my little tiny Atom83 with 1105 “toy” is OK to fly within the city???

I even considered making a VTX payload with a dedicated battery pack, so my drone would be 199.99 grams, all motor and li-po. I would even print out the Rules (in Japanese and English) and carry it with me. I could make the payload detachable and pull out a scale to prove that I am under the 200 grams…

Unfortunately, I don’t want to risk the hassle. I don’t speak Japanese well enough to argue semantics with the police. My wife also said “Police trained falcons probably won’t check the weight before they swoop down and eat your drone for lunch.”

My question to everyone: Would you do it?

On a positive note, this has pushed me to just build a more robust 3 inch quad (1407 motor, 4s), since I have to travel an hour anyways to fly, might as well make it worth it. I still need it small enough for the train ride, but still.


The legal system in Japan is really something you don’t want to get wound up in. Just do a quick search for the cost of a lawyer in Tokyo. You can be held for a few weeks without being convicted too.

If it were me, I would bring a copy of those laws and fly somewhere on the responsible side like an empty part of Yoyogi Park, Odaiba, Tama river or Nogawa Park. Lots of apologizing usually gets you pretty far I have found.

Is there an official agency you can call? May help to have a Japanese-speaking friend call them for you and try and get a definitive answer. Does Akihabara have a bunch of quadcopter stuff? Used to go there to buy all my 1/10th scale nitro car stuff when I was younger.

That certainly reads as under 200g you’re exempt. Reality of enforcement may be different. I’d keep auw(with battery) under 150g and take those rules plus a scale with you, and be prepared to apologize for existing, let alone flying drones.


Not sure if I would fly there… But at least you can buy the PA-09 (Crimping - Engineer PA-09) directly in Electronic City and crimps and all sorts of other tools required for building quads. :slight_smile:
Any local quad pilot groups you could ask?

I think will be using this post to log my time flying in Japan, maybe documents some flying spots and other info.


Does Akihabara have a bunch of quadcopter stuff? Used to go there to buy all my 1/10th scale nitro car stuff when I was younger.

I been to most of the popular RC shops in Akihabara and RC Cars are still going strong. As for multrotors, nano quads like the Hubsons and Cheersons are rebranded under the companies HiTec and GForce. I have yet to see any high C rated 2s batteries. Most are labeled 20-35C. I think the shops outside of the city will have more selections, but I haven’t been to any.


Any local quad pilot groups you could ask?

I haven’t met any yet, but I do plan to just ask a store clerk. I also found a a couple FPV racing leagues, but their websites are all in Japanese. A “Maker faire” is coming up and seems to be an all day workshop on building a Jumper X73.


…be prepared to apologize for existing, let alone flying drones.

This graphic totally makes sense now.


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@FuriousPug: That is my understanding of UAV/drone regulations in Japan. From what I recall, Japan was the first country to establish an exempt category for micro drones like that. A number of countries have since followed suit with 250g exempt categories, e.g. Canada most recently.

The only caveat is that I don’t know what the Japanese rules are for flying FPV, if you have any interest in that.

As an extra source of information, you might want to do a search on RCGroups for users from Japan. I remember one particular user in Tokyo itself (whose name escapes me) who mentioned that, as long as his quads were under 200g, he was able to fly without any issues. At the time, the only way to hit 200g was with brushless motors. Now you have a plethora of micro-brushless options too. :smiley:

ROTFL! :joy:

Hi I live in Tokyo and this issue is really annoyed me too.
After the incident that drone was crash to the roof of prime minister 's office, it is so difficult to fly a drone.
As you know most of Tokyo area ,to fly a drone without permition from government is illigal. What’s worse we need a ham lisence to use VTX! We can buy many kind of VTX from Banggood or getFPV etc however we can use only 6ch in Japan even those who operator has a lisence!
Even FPV or night flight we should get the prmittion from government.

But If you can get the permition and ham lisence ,it is possible to enjoy this hobby in Japan
If you want I can assist you a right procedure together them
So please keep in touch


btw drone’s weight is not any sense.for Japanese stupid regutation.I have a tarot 130. This weight is about 180g include 3s1000mah lipoly pack. Our gavanment want to limit for “out of view sight” flight so if we use fat shark goggles or that kind of device,we should get the permition.

Thank you for the clarification, @kayH. So basically a 200g quadcopter for LOS acro would be OK to fly without any permission? However, for any form of FPV the operator would need to obtain government authorization, even with a 100g micro quad?

Thank you @kayH!

I will diffently be asking for your help. よろしくお願いいたします!

After you comment, I started to research the HAM license.

This site is useful for foriengiers who want a Japan HAM license: (takes up to 60 days, but a 5 year license)


However, I found some articles that said changes were made in 2016 to allow drones to use 5.7ghz -5.8ghz. This fits the statement in the previous link from aircraft-japan. For example, I think if I use channel 17 and I am safe to fly without a license. Is my understanding correct?




Yep you are light .indoor flight is not a territory of aviation law in Japan .However we need a lisence to use 5ghz frequency for FPV even you want to flight under 200g drone in your house.
I think it is really ocultic and crazy regulation ,there is not have any logical reason!

Wanted to update with more information. I emailed Aircraft-japan.com about the post and below is their reply.

  1. Is a HAM license required to fly on VTX bands 5.7Ghz - 5.8Ghz?

Yes, amateur radio license is required if you would like to use 5.8GHz frequency for FPV in Japan.
Also, you have to submit an application to Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications to establish the radio station.

Please see detail from http://www.tele.soumu.go.jp/e/index.htm

  1. Can I fly a U199 , under 200 gram drone, in the red zone?

Please see URL for details.

In general, you can fly an U199 , under 200 gram drone in red zone.

However, it depends on a local authority so we strongly suggest to ask your local authority when you would fly.

I emailed the JARL organization and will see what I need.

Also, a few Japanese sites have called micro drones U199 class, I think the name makes more sense then calling them Micro / Mini quads.


Just an update.

I will be taking the technician exam for ARRL(American Relay Radio League). I can then submit for a license to JARL (Japan Amateur Radio League) for a operator license in Japan.

@kayH Do you have a HAM license? If so, what class level is it? If I pass my technician exam, I can apply for a Japanese 4th class license. Is that enough? If I take the next level exam, I can apply for Japanese 2nd class license.

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In the US, you can usually test for multiple ARRL licenses at the same time and only pay the one fee. The technician license is really easy and mostly basic electronics and Ohm’s law type stuff. The General is quite more in-depth and takes more studying. Amateur Extra is not needed for most applications. Good luck, I bet flying in Tokyo will be a hoot.

Yup, I practiced a bit and got my Technician’s licence based on knowledge from previous projects and being familiar with how government regulation works.
I did not pass the general, didn’t realize I could same-day same-fee it. There’s some radio specific stuff in that one.
If there’s enough of us licensed here at mmw we’ll have to see if we can establish radio communication!
Not that I currently have anything but a SDR dongle wired to a couple pizza dishes, but still, it’d be cool.

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Yes, I have a HAM license and class4 that is the lowest level to fly FPV. 2nd class is enough too much! However, if you get the 2nd-grade license, you can get some advantage! Class4 is very old school and basic level. Even an elementary school kids can get the license.SoI convince you Can Get it Easily. Good luck!

I passed! So that should be all I need for the vtx.

The other gray area is the radio transmitter. I am using a imported turnigy evolution that has a FCC sticker in it. I am sure I should be fine.

@kayH what type of radio do most people use in Japan? I only see Futabas for sale.

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Thie is one of the case

Flysky FS-i6 Price 42.99 USD

OEM product for Kyosho

2.4Ghz Digital proportional radio control system. Price 180 USD!
there is not any difference with them except for bland badge.
This is the fact of Japan Non-tariff barriers!
Wtf ! Is Japanese “Giteki” certification so expensive??

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